Kenyon’s Department of Dance, Drama and Film will present attendees of its annual Spring Dance Concert with a special treat: a historical staging from score of a Jerome Robbins dance as originally performed in the 1945 Broadway production of “Billion Dollar Baby.”
The concert, held May 2–4 at 8 p.m. in the Bolton Theater, showcases Robbins’ energetic “Charleston Ballet,” a performance which has been in the works among Kenyon dancers for nearly a year. The piece, based on 1920s themes and dance styles, features a cast of 16 characters who enter and exit a speakeasy backdrop.
The “Charleston Ballet” was notated by world-renowned dance Labanotation scholar Ann Hutchinson Guest, who was a dancer in the original 1945 production. After spending time in Gambier last year advising Kenyon dancers, Hutchinson Guest asked Professor of Dance Julie Brodie for her help in vetting the notation on her work by staging a full-scale production of the dance. Hutchinson Guest’s goal is to make available to the dance world a score of the “Charleston Ballet,” as well as support materials, in honor of Robbins’ centenary celebration.
“We are extraordinarily fortunate to have access to this piece,” Brodie said. “The Robbins Foundation kindly gave us permission to perform the work, and we are honored that Ann asked us to be part of the process and product.”
The concert also features a colorful and rhythmic piece in the Bharatanatyam style of dance, a classical Indian dance form. The dance, choreographed by Visiting Instructor of Dance Smitha Magal and performed by six students, reenacts mythical stories and characters from the Ramayana.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Ellie Carter choreographed “Echoes of Kindness,” a piece that examines how a diverse community of dancers can unite to move together as one and share weight.
“Every body has a physical history and movement qualities all its own,” Carter said. “In this dance, I worked to highlight each dancer’s strengths, while also exploring human connection and community, through contemporary dance.”
Other dances include “Game Over,” a humorous take on 1980s-era video games that was choreographed by Nadine Hemming ’19, a classics and dance double major from Chicago. For part of her senior exercise in dance, Jordan Wetzel ’19, from Arnold, Maryland, choreographed a two-part solo, danced by Katie Lensmeyer ’20, a studio art and biology double major from Port Huron, Michigan. Guest artist Simon Thomas-Train choreographed this year’s annual dance showcasing seniors: an octet titled “to take me at my word.”
Brodie and Professor of Dance Balinda Craig-Quijada co-direct the concert. Associate Professor of Drama Rebecca Wolf designed lighting, and Assistant Professor of Drama Tatjana Longerot designed costumes. Costume Shop Manager Deborah Clark and Technical Director Chris Ellsworth provided additional production support.
Tickets cost $7.50 for general admission, $4 for seniors, non-Kenyon students and children under 12, and $2 for Kenyon students. To reserve tickets, contact the box office at 740-427-5546 from 1-5 p.m. Thursday and Friday.